Quebec tour bus industry 'at risk of collapsing' as COVID-19 crisis decimates revenues
MONTREAL -- Quebec's Bus Carriers Federation is crying out for help after they say their revenues have been "reduced to zero" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With the complete shutdown of touristic charter coach transportation services caused by COVID-19, Quebec bus carriers have experienced the nearly complete decimation of their revenues since the month of March," the federation wrote in a news release Sunday.
The federation said that this summer (when charter buses typically make the most money) the companies experienced a 80 to 100 per cent loss in revenues.
The federation say the industry is at risk of collapsing taking down 160 companies and 4,000 employees with it, and irreperably damaging the tourism industry.
“The Canadian economy and our regions will need touristic charter coach transportation services ready to restart in full force: our companies will have an important role to play in the recovery of the tourism industry," said Bus Carriers Federation BOD and Autocar Jeannois Group president Stephane Lefebvre.
The federation is asking for the provincial and federal governments to intervene.
"The assistance that will be given to us is crucial and will have a powerful snowball effect during the recovery. The federal government must hear our heartfelt cry,” said Lefebvre.
The federation says that 70,000 contracts have been cancelled since March 13 in Quebec due to sports, cultural and school trip cancellations.
The federation puts the total industry losses at around $240 million.
The federation is asking for $16 million to cover the industry's "minimum fixed expenses" for the period from Oct. 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021.
"Without this maintenance, the coach buses will not be fit to drive when activities resume," the release reads.
Other subsidies and emergency relief loans are "insufficient," according to the federation.
The release mentions Justin Trudeau's government's throne speech, which mentioned support for the tourism industry, promising to introduce "further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts."
“Touristic charter coach transportation is crucial for the economic development of every region in Canada," said Receptive Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Association of Quebec executive director Marilyn Desy. "The resumption of leisure, school, cultural, sports, and cruise travel in Quebec and Canada depends on our ability to maintain a large fleet of quality coach buses to meet future demand."